Charter Member, Toy Fox Terrier breeder,
Mr. Fritz von Schnitzel
33 Peppermint Lane
Cornucopia, UT 88833
Well Fritz, I just got back from my first dog show. It was quite an experience. Whoever it was that got me involved in the quagmire had better beware that I am loaded for bear. I give it this, it was a nice day and I enjoyed the sunshine and atmosphere after I finally got there. And I do really mean finally.
When I set out this morning the directions they sent me with my entry said Calagora County Fairgrounds in Euthanasia. Ha! I drove 150 miles to Euthanasia before sunup with Brutus at my side snoring away. A real show dog that one. I arrived at the outskirts of town and stated looking for signs to the fairgrounds. No such thing. I drove into a service station and asked them where the dang place was. I was met with a blank stare.
This kid (maybe 15 years old) said there was no such place. C'mon I said, there must be a fairgrounds. His uncle came out of the station just then drinking his coffee and recollected there was an open field 12 miles west of here on old road 212. Well I lit out of there quick since I had a 8:30 ring time. Sure enough as I came to Old County Rd. 212 there was a sign that said Dog Show today. Old County Rd. 212 was a dusty dirt trail that for led forever into the rising sun. After 20 minutes at 15 miles an hour I finally arrived at a cow pasture that had some tents on it.
I pulled into the entrance to be greeted by members of the local Lions club who wanted to charge me $5.00 to park. They seemed disappointed when I showed them my entry pass. Later I learned that they got to keep half of all fees collected. A young lady dressed in a Scotch Highland costume (never could figure that one out) directed me to park my car in a stubble patch at least 2 light years from the nearest ring. I swear the tires were making sounds like they had been punctured.
Brutus and I got out and headed for the center of activity. Very quickly I discovered that my favorite couch potato had no heart for the tough going over that stubble field. He just plain stopped and started to sit down. That quickly ended when the stubble got him. Poor guy, he just looked up at me and said what am I going to do? Being the softie that I am I picked him up and headed out. (By the way Brutus weighs 85 lbs).
When I finally made it to an area where I could put Brutus down, it was already 8:15. I headed for ring 8 to get my armband thanking my luck stars that Brutus was a semi shorthaired breed and I wouldn't have to take much time to groom him.
Well sir, getting my armband was a real treat. The gal handling that detail just didn't seem to know what it was all about. She was truly flustered as she kept repeating "this is my first time". "Me too, honey" I thought. Finally I got my armband in time for the 9-12 Puppy class to go in the ring. There were six puppies in my class and the judge directed us to line them up under the tent facing North. Since I was the first in line I looked all around but I didn't know which way was North. This seemed to upset the judge and he looked at me as if I was twelve ways from stupid. I didn't know this was geography course I had signed up for and I glared back at him as he barked directions. Finally Brutus and I were facing North and the rest of the class was strung out behind us.
"Take them around" said the judge. "Around what?” I said. Boy did that guy become unglued. "Are you mocking me sir" he roared. "No sir, I said, I've never done this before.
Slowly he marched toward me and in the air drew a circle that he wanted me to follow. "Piece of cake " I said to myself and off I went at a gallop. Hold it," yelled the judge and I braked to a stop only to have the guy and dog just behind me plow into me.
This time I thought the poor judge was going to have apoplexy. "I wanted to see them move at a light trot" he bellowed. Now I told you already that Brutus weighed 85lbs and there was no way his trot was going to be light. But, we tried our best and made it around to where we began in one piece without the judge interfering.
Next this guy stepped back and looked over the six of us. Then he came to the front of the line and moved toward Brutus. Well sir, Brutus looked up at me as if to say "just how close should we let this guy come?" I ignored his look and just took a good grip on the lead. This judge fellow held out his hand and when Brutus didn't make a move to take it off he opened the dog's mouth. Oh, Boy I thought here comes trouble. But old Brutus surprised me. He just let that guy feel him all over until the judge went for the family jewels. Old Brutus whipped around torn between what he thought was happening to him and the desire to please me. He ended up taking the judges hand in his mouth very gently as if to say "lay off". I got to give the judge credit; he took it the right way.
The judge explained to me that under AKC rules a dog that threatened a judge should be excused from the ring and one who attempted to bite a judge would be disqualified. He said he couldn't figure out just what Brutus was really doing so was going to let him stay in the class. Brutus must have understood for he started to lick the judge's hand. That really broke up the ringside.
The judge went on down the line judging all the dogs then he came back to us and said "take him in a triangle" and drew a triangle in the air for me. I got this guy trained well. I had learned what my man was looking for so I gave it to him in spades. Brutus and I went around that triangle pretty as you please and when we got back the judge even said thank you. I like em polite like that. He did the same for all the others but I noticed we were the only ones he drew the triangle for.
Then he called another dog up to be placed next to Brutus. Hey this was serious stuff. He really seemed to like my dog. Then he put that dog back and brought another to compare to Brutus. Then he put that dog behind Brutus and placed two more behind that one. Take them around he yelled. Around we went, at a light trot I might add, and the judge pointed at me and said your number 1. Whoa Nellie! That's the first time I had ever won a first prize for anything. Old 2 left feet Lucius I had been known in my baseball days.
As I went out of the ring an old timer standing there explained that I had to wait around to go back in to compete with all the other male class winners. As I stood at ringside admiring the blue ribbon and the small trophy we had won, the old timer came up to me and started to talk. He explained that I really had a very nice puppy and that I should spend more time ring training him and myself. I agreed. Finally after judging a huge Open class, the other class winners were called into the ring. I figured I was there for window dressing as the Open Dog looked great to me. Then I glanced up and the judge was wildly beckoning for me to get my dog up there with the Open class winner.
I yanked on Brutus's lead and off we went to the head of the line. This time I kept my eyes open and did what the judge told me (I may not be agile but I ain't stupid). He stacked us next to the regal looking dog from the Open classes and brought up the Bred By Exhibitor dog as well to the other side of me.
He then went to work. I bet those dogs don't have a place this guy didn't look. Old Brutus just took it all in as if he had been there before and couldn't care less. The judge seemed to finally reach a decision. He looked straight at me and asked "if I put you up front do you promise to go around the ring in the correct way?" "You Bet" was my answer and off we went. "You’re Winners Dog" said the most important man in my life. A purple ribbon and a beautiful trophy went with it. I was on cloud nine and old Brutus looked up at me as if to say "no sweat."
The old timer caught up with me again and explained that I still had to stick around to compete against the best bitch and all the champions. Well, I allowed that was going to take time and was it really necessary? He convinced me it was. So I stayed around the ring for another hour while the judge did the bitch classes. I learned a lot more watching the judge give instructions and watching how savvy exhibitors went about making the best of their dogs. I am a quick learner, you know.
Times UP! All Specials in the ring! I had already figured out that Specials meant champions. So off we went with all the champions in front and Brutus and the Winners Bitch at the tail end of the line. Around we went with Brutus really enjoying himself. He thought all the other dogs wanted to play keep away and he desperately tried to catch up with them to play. He never caught them but looked good trying.
Well I won't keep you in suspense any longer. WE WON THE WHOLE TAMALE! WOW! I still can't believe it. The judge told me Brutus was one of the finest specimens of the breed he had seen in many moons. He also told me I was one of the worst handlers he had seen in that same length of time. As we stood posed for pictures I thought of the Robert Redford movie, The Candidate, where Redford's energies and money were spent running for office. Just as his hand was being raised as the winner he looked at his campaign manager with a plaintive looked and mouthed the words " What do we do now."
Your confused friend,
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